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By Geoff Metcalf

July 4, 2005

��Character is doing what�s right, when nobody�s looking.� -- J.C. Watts

We sit as observers to the very worst of mean spirited petty abuses of power. Even before the �super bowl� battle to fill supreme court vacancies, partisan rancor and the perpetual political whizzing match between �us� and �them� has been sufficient to gag any self respecting maggot.

Once upon a time 56 remarkable men pledged to each other their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. They were honorable and good men and serious beyond the ken of contemporary would be/wannabe/supposed to be statesmen.

Although the framers only intended for the Constitution to serve as a bridging mechanism to fix the errors of the Articles of the Confederacy, and to chill inter state commercial battles, they (and we) got lucky.

The time between George Washington�s big win at Yorktown and the Constitutional Convention in 1787 was an awkward transition. America, as a nation was really a fiction�perception but not reality.

The extraordinary sacrifices of the War for Independence could have been squandered had not the Constitutional Convention hit a home run.

Gary Hildreth wrote �The Price They Paid� in which he capsulated the fates of the 56 signers of the Declaration. They were educated, successful men.

  • 43% of them were lawyers and jurists (before the jokes)
  • 20% were merchants
  • 16% were farmers

They understood what they were doing and that there would be consequences (good and bad) for and from their actions.

  • 9% of the signers were captured as traitors, tortured and died.
  • 21% had their homes ransacked and burned
  • 16% fought and died of wounds or hardship

They didn�t just talk the talk (like so many today)�they walked the walk, and although some lost their lives and fortunes, �with firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence� their sacred honor is etched in foundation of this country.

The Declaration of Independence was intended to secure rights. The framers were clear that in order �to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.� Get that? Government powers (which were intended to be VERY limited) come from the �consent of the governed��not the other way around.

Congress has become a two dimensional stereotype of venal excess. The �consent of the governed� has been abrogated by the hubris of the anointed.

Years ago, I suggested (facetiously at the time) that we should throw away ALL the law congress has enacted and have a massive do over.

Start with three documents: The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and The Bill of Rights (the original ten). And with special attention to the �Congress shall make no law� part begin afresh.

The Declaration notes, �whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.� It adds the significant stage direction �laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.�

The �safety and happiness� of the American people is not served or enhanced by the sophomoric bitchfest that presumes to maintain the fiction of Congress.

The framers specifically crafted a government that was �supposed� to consist of three co-equal branches. The Executive, The Legislative, and the Judiciary each were intended to be equal but different from the other. Each branch had (has) specific job functions that did not overlap.

History, inertia, and malfeasance has altered the government that brilliance and serendipity provided us.
Various presidents (Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, Clinton and Bush) have presumed to assume more power and authority that ever intended.
Congress has contributed to the overreach of the Executive largely through malfeasance, and diffidence in doing their prescribed jobs.
The Judiciary (perhaps recognizing the testosterone deficiency of Congress) had presumed to not just �judge� but to legislate from the bench.

Congress has the authority (and responsibility) to declare war. However, the gutless wonders have not done so since Pearl Harbor despite having granted various presidents the authority to dispatch military adventures all over the globe over 150 times since WWII.

Most Americans grouse about Congress. The usual refrain is, �They are ALL incompetent bastards�except MY congress critter.� And so incumbent after petty incumbent continue to return like metastasizing cells to grow in strength and eviscerate the essence of what the republic is supposed to be.

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J.C. Watts once observed that, ��Character is doing what�s right, when nobody�s looking.� That kind of character is grounded by principle.

Congress is so corrupted by special interests, personal interests, egos and sports analogies of win/loose they have become incapable of doing what�s right regardless of who is or isn�t looking.

� 2005 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved

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"Geoff Metcalf is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for TALK AMERICA and a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Visit Geoff's Web Site: While you're at it - pick up a copy of Geoff's latest book!  E-mail:







The Declaration of Independence was intended to secure rights. The framers were clear that in order �to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.� Get that?